The Student Counselling Service is back with another article! Geraldine Taylor writes about the importance of letting the outside in.
Start with a plant. Buy one locally and put it in your room as part of a ‘let the outside in’ drive: another vital, research-proven component in keeping you mentally healthy.
Plants punch above their weight: they’re something else alive in there with you. Provided you keep the plants alive, of course, and more about that later.
Letting the outside in is about bringing in energy.
Earliest cave dwellers knew this: there’s not much energy hanging about in dark, damp caves. But look at the early carvings! Apart from the inevitable open palm hand pictures, what is regarded as the earliest cave art in Europe (possibly 40,800 years old) in the limestone caves of Sulawesi, represented the animals around the dwellers, in particularly vigorous, energetic depictions.
If you can’t have a pet, house plants are also beneficial: nurturing life is helpful for your mental health #CopingChat
— unsuicide (@unsuicide) February 1, 2017
What did they achieve by this? It brought the outside world with its challenges and victories right inside the door just as the selfie photo of yourself beside the mountain peak pinned to your fridge remains you of what you did.
Bringing the outside in has a long history, a long affinity with mankind. The need today is just as strong.
If your own four walls are feeling a bit cave-like invest in a print, look at the energy in the landscapes of Monet, Van Gogh, Hockney…just looking at these pictures now and then transports the mind, lowers stress, fires imagination.
Try Hockney’s astonishing Arrival of Spring to feel the power. Or maybe visit a local art gallery and chose a post card or poster from the exhibition. Good places to start are:
Invest in some letting the outside in reading: be transported by Cabins: Inspiration for your quiet place somewhere. Immerse yourself in Deep Country, five years in the welsh hills by Neil Ansell. Be inspired by even the tiniest section of When the trees say nothing, by mystic and poet Thomas Merton:
‘A sweet summer afternoon. Cool breezes and a clear sky.
This day will not come again.
The young bulls lie under a tree in the corner of their field.
Quiet afternoon. Blue hills. Day lilies nod in the wind.
This day will not come again.’
Back to the plants:
Looking after pot plants is easy. They are like us in that they need light, water, food and a rest!
Light: geraniums aside, most plants don’t like full-on sun. They like nice light places where they can see the sun but don’t get their leaves burned.
Water: if the soil feels dry, then water. No rule for how often. When you water, water deeply so the roots get a soak, no point otherwise.
Food: you can get special plant food, or simply replace with a little more potting compost after flowering period. Any florist or plant shop will be glad to help, they like the interest. The nice florist opposite the co-op on St Michael’s Hill is very helpful.
Rest: take off dead flowers when they wither, cut plant stems down to an inch or so, water and put somewhere shady for a rest. I even have a plant hospital at work!
Thank you to the Student Counselling Service for their contribution.